Eye in the Sky
by Tony Medley
Runtime 102 minutes.
OK for children.
In 1948 Clark Gable made
one of his best movies, Command Decision. Directed by Sam Wood,
it pictured Clark as Brig. Gen. K. C. “Casey” Dennis, the commanding
officer of a USAF bomber squadron in England and the tough decision he
had to make about sending his squadron deep into Germany to bomb
ball-bearing factories for German jet planes at the end of World War II
in light of increasing high casualties. It was made even harder by the
presence of a visiting Congressman and a journalist looking over his
shoulder. It was a brilliant, tense examination of a soldier having to
make a very tough decision that would necessarily involve sending lots
of American fliers to their deaths.
This seems to me to be
basically a remake of that film, only it’s set in various locations
epitomizing how local air wars are conducted today. You aren’t going to
see many better movies than this one, this year or any year. Colonel
Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) plays Clark’s role. She has to make a
decision as to whether or not to send a bomb from a drone down on a
terrorist leader they have been trying to get and some of his bad guys
who are planning a suicide bombing in the market square, but there is
collateral damage that has to be considered.
Mirren is located in a
computer office. At another location is Lt. Gen. Frank Benson (Alan
Rickman in one of his last roles, if not his last), who is sitting in
front of a computer communicating with Col. Powell but also in the room
with him are lots of politicians. They debate the legalities and
moralities. At another location outside of Las Vegas is drone pilot
Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) who doesn’t want to pull the trigger because of
possible collateral damage to a young girl who has inadvertently
wandered into the kill zone and set up a stand to sell bread.
But it’s very, very
complicated. The Rules of Engagement have to be followed so there are
lots of people covering their behinds by pushing the decision to the
person above them.
The tension crackles as
time is a-wastin’ while everyone passes the buck. This is exceptionally
realistic with a thought-provoking non-Hollywood ending.